While cancer is personal, the cancer experience is not isolated.

The Biden Cancer Initiative launched the #cancerFIERCE campaign to tell the collective cancer narrative through the prism of a broad range of cancer experiences.

#cancerFIERCE is a message of strength, resilience, determination, purpose and hope. It celebrates the FIERCE that we know is in everyone touched by cancer – patients, families, caregivers, healthcare providers, researchers, and many more.

Share your #cancerFIERCE moment

Please send us your photo along with a brief narrative (75 words or less) describing a moment when you’ve turned your cancer fears into #cancerFIERCE or share with us what motivates you to stay #cancerFIERCE against so many odds.

Allison Rosen

“I was working in a cancer research lab when I was diagnosed with colorectal cancer. I worked every day I could during treatment and it gave me a new appreciation for how important oncology research truly is! Once I was well and in remission I decided to begin work in the health disparities field!"

"I tell my story throughout the clinics of Harris Health system to help providers and clinic staff realize how important they are in encouraging their patients to get screened for colorectal cancer. When a cancer can be prevented by screening there is no reason you should not get screened. I want to be the voice of those we have lost to the disease, those currently in treatment, and the future patients. I want my voice and my story heard all over the world because I am a survivor, researcher, health educator, ostomate, and advocate fighting everyday to reduce health disparities!” (Allison Rosen, TX)

Amber Shaw

"I was diagnosed with stage 3 triple positive breast cancer in 2016. I am an active duty soldier currently stationed at APG."

"Without my family and the soldiers to my left and right... I do not think I would have been able to maintain the fighting spirit I am now known for." (Amber Shaw, MD)

Bill Westlake

“I’m an Atlanta native, a husband, a father -- and if you met me -- you wouldn’t know that I’m a terminal, stage IV lung cancer patient. My earth shattering news came at age 51 during a routine check-up. My primary doctor said, “Bill, I think you need to look at something on my screen.” To my surprise, he showed me my chest x-ray with a halo surrounding a tiny black dot, upper left lung. I turned to him and said, “can’t be lung cancer because I’ve never smoked.” Within 2 hours, I learned that the black dot had all of the characteristics of adenocarcinoma lung cancer."

"That’s the moment surreal became real and my life would never be the same. Terminal cancer continues to teach me that love equals strength and hope surpasses fear. My love for my family gave me strength to set the right tone from the onset and address the burden with love and positivity. As for hope, my wife Renee, taught me that knowledge leads to feeling empowered. We found people online who were living with my cancer for multiple years, not just months. This brought immediate hope. Together, we joined the ALK Positive Support Group on Facebook. Joining the group made us realize that a patient/caregiver team, supported by the knowledge and care of other patients, was far greater than relying on one doctor or hospital. A year into this journey I have settled into a new life perspective that happiness is a choice, not an entitlement.” (Bill Westlake, GA)

BMX and Brain Cancer

"After a 6-hr open cranial surgery to remove the first tumor when I was 21, Gamma Knife radiation to shrink the next 2 tumors when I was 23, and a ketogenic diet to halt the progression of the additional 2 tumors when I was 27, living with 4 brain tumors today as a professional BMX athlete has given me tremendous appreciation and perspective for living my life."

It has also shown me I am not alone in this fight and has given me a passion to share what I have learned to help others become healthy, happy, and successful. It starts with our mindset to foster a belief in success and it progresses by taking action with nutrition and exercise. I am grateful for this experience because it has shown me how strong I am, has led me to my passion for a ketogenic diet and exercise, and has allowed me to have an impact on the world with a global presence through my sport of BMX. I envision that impact growing even more as I get into motivational speaking as a goal to empower others to believe in themselves to become happy, healthy, and successful." (Josh Perry, North Carolina)

Bobbi Johnson Filipiak

“When tucking my five year old daughter into bed last night, she looked up at me and said “mommy, you’ve been fired........fired from cancer so that we can be together forever”.

She has been my beacon of hope and inspiration since being diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer. I was diagnosed after her birth when a technician accidentally (thankfully!) scanned my chest. My arsenal included surgery, radiation, chemo, and combination immunotherapy. I’m currently in my 2nd clinical trial, and I believe when patients and doctors work together to determine the best treatment plan, everybody wins!” (Bobbi Johnson Filipiak, Ohio)

Brooke Kotrla

At 20 years old, Brooke Kotrla was diagnosed with a 7 cm brain tumor. She is a dancer, college student, and fitness enthusiast. As a graduate of Houston's High School for the Performing and Visual Arts and a member of the Texas Tech Pom team she competed and performed at the national level but nothing could prepare her for what was ahead.

After an 11 hour awake brain surgery at MD Anderson Cancer Center, she had 6 weeks of daily proton radiation, and has just completed a full year of chemotherapy. Her courage, positivity, and faith have been an encouragement to everyone she meets. Even during her treatment, she has become an advocate and shared her voice to raise money for vital brain cancer research. Her smile lights up a room and her spirit and energy encourage others on their journey. Just 15 months after surgery, she is finishing her degree at Texas Tech and teaching numerous dance classes each week. She is #CancerFiERCE. (Brooke Kotrla, Texas)

Bryce Olson

“I am #CancerFIERCE. I didn’t used to be.”

Bryce Olson shares his cancer journey with the Biden Cancer Initiative.

Chase Jones: #CancerFIERCE

"I walked off the field one day, with a headache I couldn't explain to my teammates or coaches."

Chase Jones shares his #CancerFIERCE survivorship story.

Cynthia Keyllian

“After being diagnosed with Stage 3 Hodgkin's Lymphoma at the age of 20, I felt I hit rock bottom and it was nearly impossible to look up."

Until I realized that I am only one drop in a sea of people who are fighting the same battle. It was then that I turned my fear into action and started a nonprofit one month into treatment. Beads for Battle shares hope and positivity with the cancer community and encourages patients to put on their armor and fight like they have never fought before!” (Cynthia Keyllian, California)

Devon Still

"When she was diagnosed, it was like a storm hit my family..."

Former NFL defensive end, Devon Still, shares his family's #CancerFIERCE story.

Dr. Carol Brown’s Passion Is to Connect Patients to Innovation

"I'm really hopeful about our ability to put together these incredible technological advances...and apply that to making people aware."

Dr. Carol Brown of Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center believes that more cancer patients need access to the latest and best advances.

Dr. Lisa Roth

"My Hodgkin Lymphoma diagnosis turned my world upside down. Going from pediatric oncologist to patient was more difficult than I thought. I had patients in the middle of the same treatment I was about to go through and I had to leave them to care for myself."

Today, I’m grateful to bond with patients in a way I couldn’t have before and launched the Adolescent and Young Adult Lymphoma Program at NewYork-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center. (Dr. Lisa Roth, New York)

Erin Sarauer

"I was diagnosed with Stage IV non-small cell lung cancer in July 2016 following months of an unrelenting cough; visits to urgent care, an ENT, my primary provider, and the ER where I underwent a chest CT scan and I heard the word “mass” for the first time. When the pulmonologist said the words “You have lung cancer,” I passed out right in front of him, and awoke while begging him that he must be mistaken since I had never smoked. A brain MRI revealed approximately two dozen lesions throughout my brain, with the largest being in the cerebellum. Another PET scan found a whopping 8 cm tumor in my right femur."

I underwent two bone biopsies followed by 23 rounds of radiation to those two locations. Coping with what has been described as a “terminal illness” has been a huge challenge and definitely the most difficult battle I ever had to face. The first year was very rough, both for myself and also for Randy, my husband. I have gotten though it with his support, some pretty amazing friends and neighbors, my therapist, and new friends and acquaintances that I have made along the way. My biggest fears concern my three young sons, and I try to put all of my attention towards them, making meaningful moments out of our daily interactions and activities together. I find cancer advocacy extremely important and have managed to weave that in among my other demands. It is so meaningful to be able to talk about my story, connect with other survivors, and learn from one another. I have no doubt that I would not be able to say today that my cancer is stable.” (Erin Sarauer, Wisconsin)

Getting through the Cancer Journey with comedy

“I am a wife-mom-comedian-cancer-survivor-straight-shooting-cracker-upper-of-audiences-and-encourager-of-women.

1 month after my no-symptom-45-year-old-surprise diagnosis of Stage 1 colon cancer, I started cracking butt jokes to raise awareness for the disease. Because butt jokes kill and unfortunately so does colon cancer.” (Heather Tolley-Bauer, GA)

Gina Hollenbeck – ALK Positive

“At 37 years old, I was the picture of health; I ate organic, exercised regularly, ran 1/2 marathons, played tennis, worked as a nurse, and was an active wife and mother to two young boys. Having never smoked, I was shocked when I was diagnosed with Stage IV lung Cancer in October of 2015. I knew something was wrong when a non-productive cough lasted for more than 6 weeks."

I insisted on getting a chest X-ray which eventually led to my diagnosis of lung cancer. I was fortunate my oncologist was smart enough to know I needed a brain MRI immediately after being diagnosed because often lung cancer metastasizes to the brain as was the case for me. I am grateful my oncologist, in Memphis, TN, was persistent and knew biomarker testing was essential in treating lung cancer correctly. When my genomic testing came back that I was ALK Positive this meant I was available for targeted chemotherapy in a pill form. The pills have fewer side effects than traditional IV chemotherapy. Advances in research and technology have allowed me to live a fairly normal life- even with stage IV lung cancer. As of today, these targeted therapies are not a cure, but they transformed a months to live diagnosis into three years and counting. I am living proof that demands we find every patient who can benefit from biomarker testing, it is unacceptable not to.”

Heidi shares her story

“I was 38 when I was diagnosed with breast cancer. I thought it couldn't happen to me."

My #cancerFIERCE moment was when my hobby, designing handbags, turned into a business in between surgeries. Then, I started volunteering. I helped others by being open about my diagnosis, and now, I’ve decided to go back to school to get my masters to become a therapist and help others like me. (Heidi Kelly, PA)

Jennifer Lane-Williams

"Last year on Halloween, I was diagnosed with stage 3 invasive ductal carcinoma breast cancer. I was initially terrified. Over the next few days I cried, prayed, and meditated."

"Because of my soul searching I became determined to fight this disease with everything I have. I owe it to myself, and my family. I made changes to my diet by including more fruit and vegetables, exercising regularly. This August, I completed my full course the treatments, chemotherapy, surgery and radiation. The battle is not over. I will continue upon my wellness path, for I am determined to beat this disease.” (Jennifer Lane-Williams, Maryland)

Jimmy ‘Taboo’ Gomez Shares His Cancer Story

"I've been through a lot of crazy experiences throughout my career, but nothing prepared me for this war against cancer..."

Jimmy "Taboo" Gomez of the Black Eyed Peas shares his cancer experiences and is on a mission to prevent others from going through what he went through.

Karen shares her story

“For a while, I wasn't happy with the way I looked after my surgery, nor the pain and complications I still have to live with daily. One day, I decided to snap out of it. I thought about the individuals who are no longer among us... who am I to complain, I still have my life. The experiences I've had to endure are what inspired my poems. With each poem, I wish to make a positive impact on someone who's ill, hoping it gives them the strength to embrace their life in a whole new way. I'm a true example that you can survive cancer, not once, but twice. I'm not saying that it will be easy, but just have faith, fight with all you have, then hold on."

Karen Rice, a survivor of both breast and colon cancer shares with us what inspires her.

Kate Yglesias Houghton

"When I was diagnosed, I had just bought my house six weeks before, I had changed jobs to take a promotion."

Kate Yglesias Houghton, of Critical Mass, shares her #CancerFIERCE story

Ken Fleming

“Make life count. And every time you achieve a milestone, think of the one you lost.”

There are stories of triumph over this dreaded disease, but also of heart-wrenching loss. This is the story of Ken, a dad who lost his son, Jack, to cancer. Ken wrote a poem (excerpted here) the day after his son passed from brain cancer at the age of 21. Jack left behind five brothers, and Ken’s words to them are fierce and should be remembered by those who have lost someone to cancer. (Ken Fleming)

Krystle shares her story

"Having cancer is scary. You aren't a medical professional and sure haven't been through anything like this before."

You don't understand the terms or what each scan or surgery will mean to you and your family. Once you are a cancer patient, you are always a cancer fighter. I was diagnosed with a Gastrointestinal stromal tumor. I lost part of my stomach and almost died from complications from surgery. I now live with dumping syndrome and have to watch what I eat and how I eat it. I am a cancer survivor and thankful for every day on this beautiful earth. Cancer doesn't care about your age. I never thought it was possible for it to happen to me but at 27 I became a cancer survivor. I am very thankful for the wonderful medical professionals who cared for me. Without their knowledge and expertise my cancer would not have been found early on giving me a better chance at survival.” (Krystle Chick, MD)

Longo Family

"I'd go into the doctors, and they'd say "no, its walking pneumonia..."

Michael Longo and his family share their CancerFIERCE story.

Margaret Norris

“My son, Joey, was diagnosed at age 10. He relapsed 2 years later. Due to his extensive chemotherapy and radiation treatment, he had a rough fight with a lot of time inpatient time. In the spring of 2012, we had our worst extended period of time."

He had fungal lung pneumonia with a mass pressing on his superior vena cava. On top of all our regular fears, the potential of a stroke was added. He had to open up his lungs via breathing exercises in order to break up the infection in his lungs. This was how he 'earned' his morphine. My #cancerfierce moment came one horrible day. The pain and struggle had reached a point where he asked me to let him stop. Essentially, he asked me to let him die. I said, "I am your mother and if that day comes, I will make that decision. Today is not that day. Do your exercises. Now," and then stood there and watched him cry and struggle. Joey is now 20 and a college junior. He doesn't remember that day and I can't forget it.” (Margaret Norris, Maryland)

Mark Crafts

“I asked 2 questions when I was diagnosed with Stage IV colorectal cancer last year: "Can I keep riding my bike?" and "Can I make it to NYC to Bruce Springsteen on Broadway in 90 days?“

My doctors loved my goals, informing me that most cancer survivors set goals, stay active and work hard to remain engaged with others. I did get to see Bruce (and say a prayer with him and 900 other people). And, I've formed an annual fundraising ride with family, friends, and my employer to raise money for cancer research. For our first event - just 11 weeks after major surgery and between chemo rounds - I rode 37 miles on my e-bike. I am #cancerFIERCE and I'm committed to helping others fight cancer too.” (Mark Crafts, California)

Mike and Erin

“In 2003, my husband, Mike Miller was just 44 years old when he was diagnosed with stage IV pancreatic cancer. Because of a clinical trial, he was given more time. He was able to coach his daughter’s t-ball team, take his boys camping, and even go on a ski vacation."

"It was because of the clinical trial that our kids remember their dad. Through this journey we realized Mike wasn't alone. While we lost Mike, he left this world knowing that he was making a difference for all cancer patients through participating in a clinical trial. We founded Lazarex Cancer Foundation in Mike’s memory to give hope to others who are in need of the medicinal advances in clinical trials today, for a chance at tomorrow. This is how we as a family became #cancerFIERCE on behalf of Mike and all cancer patients.” (Erin Miller, CA)

Mike shares his story

"In 2013, I was given about three months to live. This year, 2018, I had the pleasure of riding my bicycle 546 miles from New York City to Niagara Falls as part of a fundraising effort for cancer research.”

Michael Paradowski of New York shares his #CancerFIERCE story. Ride on, Mike!

Mollie and Ryan

“My #cancerFIERCE moment was when I realized not all parents could be with their children during cancer treatment. To not be with your child when they need you the most, unacceptable!"

"We started JUST TRYAN IT to help the families of children with cancer financially, so the family can concentrate on what really matters, the child in treatment.” (Mollie and Ryan, Maryland)

Nora McMahon

“In 2015, after months of persistent bloating and fatigue, I was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. At age 39, when most of my friends were raising children, I had a major surgery to remove my full reproductive system and two separate malignant tumors that were stemming from my ovaries."

Following my surgery, I had to undergo 4 months of aggressive chemotherapy. I felt broken. Through this harrowing experience, I learned so much about my own strength and power- in particular about the value of our collective stories and the language we use to identify our experiences. I never connected to the word "survivor", so I created a narrative that worked for me- I was a "Cancer Grad". The term turned into a way of approaching a cancer experience that empowers patients- one that allowed a "warrior" to also be a "cancer student", an oncologist to be a "cancer professor", a diagnosis to be a "major", treatments to be a cancer "course load". No one "loses their battle" within this new narrative- cancer students leave us to "study abroad". The objective became to create a platform wherein cancer students and cancer grads could share the knowledge and wisdom that they learned from their experience and to pass it on. We rise by rising others.” (Nora McMahon, Pennsylvania)

Peggy shares her story

“I was diagnosed on Halloween 2016 with Stage IV colorectal cancer at age 36."

I experienced many of the common symptoms, but I was misdiagnosed by my doctor for over 8 months because I was told I was “too young” for colorectal cancer. My story is not unique, as colorectal cancer is on the rise in people under 50. There is no such thing as too young for cancer. Listen to your body and don’t be afraid to get multiple opinions until you get answers. Your life is worth it.” (Peggy Myrick, VA)

Rachel shares her story

"Often told I'm "too young for cancer." I was devastated when doctors confirmed my worst fears, and I was diagnosed with Stage IIB triple-negative breast cancer. I'm especially passionate about helping other young breast cancer survivors feel less alone. With a background in fashion, I was determined to keep my fashion sense. During treatment, I founded SurvivorModa and used my sewing skills to create The ParkPuff, a stylish chest-comforting, go-anywhere seatbelt pillow for breast cancer patients worldwide."

Rachel Park, a tie designer, a breast cancer survivor and awareness advocate shares her #cancerFIERCE.

Renee Hill

“There were tough times, and times I feared I would miss out on so much of my life but I never believed I wouldn't survive this. I was 31 years old and diagnosed with a rare cancer, adenocarcinoma of the appendix. The shocking diagnosis, two surgeries, 8 rounds of chemo, and a long recovery were overwhelming and exhausting."

Fifteen months after my 12-hour surgery I trained for and completed my 25th half marathon. Last fall, I raised almost $10,000 for cancer research and ran 5 miles with my friends. Today, I am healthy and strong and plan to live a long and happy life.” (Renee Hill, Wisconsin)

Sarah shares her story

“I know I am the exception. I am that small percentage of young people diagnosed with colon cancer before the recommended screening age."

I am that small percentage of metastatic patients who surpass 5 years of survival with active disease. I am that small voice that screams so loud about the rise of colorectal cancer in young people. And I am #cancerFIERCE.” – Sarah DeBord of Minneapolis, MN

Sharon Chappell

"I was diagnosed with breast cancer in November 2017, and received 10 months of surgeries, chemotherapy and radiation. I rescued a parrot named Zoe the same day as my diagnosis, and three days later my father died of brain cancer."

Zoe is a wizard at holding things with his three (instead of four) toes. He always makes us laugh with his antics and silly expressions. I realized that if he could make us feel good as I go through surgery, chemotherapy and radiation, with my family beside me, surely a little green monster can do this for other families too. I wrote a book to help families like mine, parents with cancer and their children, called The Little Green Monster: Cancer Magic! I have donated the book to over 1000 families with children impacted by cancer, and the organizations that support their care. I have decided to refocus my teaching career into creating and facilitating healing arts education workshops in hospitals and cancer support organizations with these families, focusing on processing emotions and making legacy memories through literature and the arts. (Sharon Chappell)

Stache Strong

“One of the most unspoken pieces of cancer is those directly affected. While the rest of us are certainly healthy, life has changed and it's almost as though a piece of us is missing. I've always wondered how families keep it together and march on into darkness; that was, until it happened to us."

I can now tell you exactly HOW it happens. It's not easy. It'll never be easy. I wish I could tell you it was. But it only happens TOGETHER. My dad has been the captain of the boat; navigating us and never wavering. My mom has been the 5 star utility player doing anything and everything to make sure everyone is comfortable and happy at all times. My sister has been the breath of fresh air. My brother's tenacity and attitude in his fight against brain cancer is what ultimately keeps the 5 of us going. It takes each and every one of us, TOGETHER, to beat a foe like brain cancer. TOGETHER, we will beat it; mark my words. #StacheStrong” (Colin Gerner)

Staying cancer-free

“After my wife Shannon underwent six weeks of chemotherapy and radiation therapy followed by an esophagectomy with colon interposition where her surgeon removed 10cm of esophagus above the tumor and 10cm of stomach below the tumor and replaced that with a section of her large intestine (part of the transverse and descending colon), we learned that it worked – there is no evidence of cancer cells! Now our biggest concerns are her nutrition, her energy and managing her pain, though that has mostly subsided compared to what it was a few weeks ago.”

Mike DiMascio of Austin, TX shares how his family continues to cope with the aftermath of cancer.

Susan shares her story

“Killing cancers has not worked sufficiently. Stopping their ability to evolve might."

"My #cancerFierce? I founded and led the Cancer Evolvability Program in the Dan L Duncan Comprehensive Cancer Center at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston. We want to understand then stop the mechanisms that generate the variation that lets cancers evolve malignancy and therapy resistance.” - Susan Rosenberg, Houston, TX

Sydney Barned

“My name is Sydney. I was diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer in February 2017 at the age of 33, during my first year of medical residency. I am young, athletic, a non smoker and I got lung cancer anyway, stage 4 ALK positive lung cancer. I became a doctor who tried to convince my patients to stop smoking."

Almost 20% of persons diagnosed with lung cancers are non smokers. Before genomic testing, everyone was treated with chemotherapy and lung cancer had the lowest 5 year survival, approximately 17%. Genomic testing has changed those survival statistics for the better! As for me, I am grateful. My medications are doing the work they should. Because of them, I have been able to continue my residency, and I'm counting down to June 2019, which is when I graduate. If I was diagnosed a decade ago, I definitely would have had to do chemo, likely have had to drop out of my program, and I probably would not be here a year after diagnosis. I am thankful for the advances in research, and for the medications to make my life, with minimal interruption, possible.” (Sydney Barned, Maryland)

The Wasko Family

“I wanted to share my husband’s story because I think it’s very encouraging to anybody who is fighting this beast! He was diagnosed with a walnut sized glioblastoma in November 2012 at the age of 33. His only symptom was a headache that wouldn’t go away. The week after we found out was quite a whirlwind, that included us getting married! He had surgery to remove over 99% of the tumor followed by 6 weeks of chemo and radiation then 18 months of chemo and did great!"

"Fast forward to January 2016 (I was 7 1/2 months pregnant with a baby doctors said we might never have because of my husband’s cancer treatments) and his doctor found a small recurrence at the original tumor site during a routine MRI. This was small enough to be treated with stereotactic radiosurgery and more chemo. We got less time between recurrences this around, December 2016( our son was 10 months old) they found another recurrence and this time it was treated with surgery and he was enrolled in The Toca 511 clinical trial. It didn’t come without complications but after all was said and done he’s doing amazing! He will be a 6 year survivor in November and leads a completely normal life! Works full time as a registered nurse, drives, helps care for our two year old son, etc.... I hope his story provides some hope and encouragement for everybody who is fighting!” (Jillian Wasko, PA)

Tracy LaPorte

“I was diagnosed with breast cancer at 37 years old. My #CancerFierce? Learning how to swim and ride a bike."

A year and a half later, I crossed the finish line at Ironman Lake Placid. My life perspective has shifted. I am now a certified Health and Wellness Coach. My passion? Using a holistic approach to coach cancer patients and survivors. The power of resilience, grit and perspective among these humans is awe inspiring.” (Tracy LaPorte, Virginia)

Travis Anderson

"As summer came to a close, life was "normal" for Travis Anderson, his wife Donna, and their three young boys. What happened next, one simply could not be prepared for. Travis started getting headaches, which was strange, as he had never gotten headaches before. He was also experiencing unrelenting neck pain."

"Soon after, he started having difficulty communicating more complex thoughts and explanations, plus he became emotionally distant -- instinctively he knew something was wrong so he made an appointment to get a CAT scan. However, while driving to the appointment, the doctor’s office called with news that Travis' insurance would not cover it, but would cover an MRI. The test results were shocking: he had a large brain tumor. Within 24 hours, Travis was in emergency craniotomy surgery. But Travis is a fighter. "There are people who beat this cancer,” Travis says. “I intend to be one of them.“ (Travis Anderson, Fargo, ND)